Pastor Jim’s Blog: What We have Seen and Hearne

 
 
 
 

A Dream Lost to a Future

Did you catch the so-called presidential debate the other night?  It was the most watched debate in history.  After seeing that depressing display of debate and jousting, I came across an interesting story that I thought you might enjoy as well. It is entitled: 

A Dream Lost to a Future.

Since the age of seven, young Harry dreamed of only one thing – he was going to grow up to be a concert pianist.  To that end he practiced faithfully every day and took piano lessons twice a week from a respected instructor.  He delighted his family with his skill and impressed those around him with the quickness of his mind and depth of ability.

At the age of fifteen, he accompanied his mentor to the recital of a world-renowned pianist.  After the concert, Harry met with the master and even played for him.  It was agreed that Harry had remarkable talent and the master assured him that one day he would play to great audiences in grand halls all over the world.

Still, as so often happens in life, fate took a decisive turn.  Within a year his future seemed uncertain.  The family fortune was lost – there was no money for piano instruction, much less, any time to practice.  At sixteen, Harry worked to support his family, and his boyhood dream faded away.

Four decades passed and Harry the sixteen year old boy was now a man.  Yet the same dedication that allowed Harry to succeed at the piano helped him succeed in life.  Harry S. Truman never played great music for audiences around the world, but he did become the 33rd President of the United States and he led the nation with dedication and great leadership.

More than simply an enjoyable story, here is a story of gospel challenge.  The challenge of Good News is often one of facing our changing dreams with courage. I enjoyed studying and about Truman while an undergrad in seminary.  He was a fascinating human being.  He was a man who often exercised that kind of courage.  He failed in his first business of operating a clothing store.  He lost his first bid for re-election to public office in an embarrassing fashion.  He was a disaster in his personal finances – Harry often had to change his dreams.  Still he understood that when one dream dies, another often takes shape.  His courage consisted in believing in the future and trusting that God was not done with him. 

All of us have dreams; dreams of being a concert pianist or a professional basketball player or being a pastor; dreams about raising perfect children who always make us proud; dreams of having tremendous parents who always say the right thing at the right time; dreams of traveling and working in an exciting career; dreams of this and dreams of that – all of us have dreams!  And then often some person, some event, something comes along and suddenly life takes a decisive turn.  We discover that we’re not good enough, or we lose our job, or we realize that our parents aren’t perfect, or perhaps our health fails.  These are the moments when our dream dies and often our future appears bleak because of it.

But as I said, the Good News is about facing changing dreams – the Good News is that God is
never done with us.  Like Harry in the story, the gospel proclaims that tragedy never 
has the final word. As Christians we come to BLC each week to celebrate that the resurrection is a reality in our lives!  We believe that some dreams may die but others will be given to us beyond our wildest imaginings.  There will be new hopes for our children, second chances for relationships, new loves and new undiscovered adventures, and when all is said and done, when we face the greatest tragedy of all, even death will not have the last word. The Good News is always about resurrection, and new dreams, and life beyond death.  So, go dream and let God dream with you because He is never finished with you! 
 
~P.J.


Stand or Sit

According to a recent definition I came across, a blog (a truncation of the expression weblog) is a discussion or informational site published on the internet consisting of discrete entries (“posts”) typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post appears first).  Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?  Well, put simply, a blog is an ongoing diary or commentary written by an individual.  In this case, this blog will be written by me as kind of like a diary of how I see life in the congregation, church, community and world.  See this as a place where faith meets the world.  And in fact, this is what Jesus was all about…bringing his personal identity and love of God and neighbor into the world.
 
My hope is to post a new blog once a month that may include stories, some humor, questions to ponder, food for thought, nuggets or pearls of wisdom, tales of faith, hope and love.  I have dubbed this blog page “What We Have Seen and Hearne.”  Hopefully, you get the play on words, there!
 
Recently, my wife Amy, sister-in-law Kate and myself went to Soldier Field for a pre-season game between the Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs.  Even though I was born and raised in Chicago, I am a diehard Chiefs fan.  Amy, of her own free will, roots for the Chiefs.  We figured this might be the closest we get geographically to seeing the Chiefs play this year.  It was a meaningless game which the Chiefs won 23-7.  Before the game started, though, fans were asked to stand, remove their caps and join in the singing of the National Anthem.  Recently a quarterback from the San Francisco 49ers NFL team refused to stand for the National Anthem because he feels the qualities the flag is supposed to represent have been absent in the recent shootings of black people by police around the country.  His refusal to stand has sparked debate around the country revolving around patriotism, liberty, free speech, and respect.  It has been interesting to read some comments by folks about this situation.  It got me thinking about our faith. 

 

What does the love of Christ impel us to do?  If you read the bible, study the stories and pray on them, I think one gets the message that Christ invites and challenges us to make a stand with him.  Stand with Christ for the poor, the vulnerable, the disenfranchised, the forgotten, the sick, the imprisoned, the lonely, the outcast, the sinner.  We are challenged to stand together so that each individual regardless of race, skin color, sexual orientation, creed, or religion is recognized and valued. But here’s the question: what does making a stand look like?  For the quarterback in question, taking a stand literally means taking a seat.  Whether you agree or disagree with the stance, he is making a stand for something he believes in.  I have thought where would Christ stand on this issue?  I suppose He would be present with the grieving families of those killed as well as with the families of the police officers involved.  This story goes beyond the flag of the United States.  It goes to the heart of the matter…that still after 2,000 years Jesus walked this planet we still struggle to see the dignity of every human being. 

 

My little girl Anna inspires me to see with the eyes of Christ…at the ripe age of 2, she is full of wonder, innocence, naivety and awe.  When do we lose that vision?  Sociologists suggest that when we enter 2nd or 3rd grade we begin to see the differences among us and make conclusions about it…a boy who has played with a girl since pre-school senses she is “different” and stops playing with her.  Two boys inseparable notice the different skin color and begin to separate from each other.  How do we hold onto that vision of seeing with the eyes of love rather than with eyes of color?  Christ reminds us of something very important: there is far more than unites us than separates us.  The color of our skin makes up a very small percent of our overall person.  Why not focus on the beating heart, the mind, the spirit and soul of one another? 

 

To stand or not to stand.  That’s really not the point.  The important thing as Mr. Fred Rodgers was so fond of reminding us is to be neighbor to each other wherever we are.  It’s such a good feeling to know you’re alive…it’s such a happy feeling to show it inside…go be the best neighbor today and everyday to those around you.  And by being neighbor, we walk side by side and arm in arm with everyone in Christ. 

 
~P.J.
 
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“This is what Yahweh asks of you- only this: to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God” –Micah 6:8
 
“A single crocus blossom ought to be enough to convince our heart that springtime, no matter how predictable, is somehow a gift, gratuitous, gratis, a grace.” – David Steindl-Rast
 
“All attack is a call for help. When you know this, you begin at once to look deeply into the question of what kind of help is being called for” –Neale Walsch
 
“Every morning I turn my face to the wind. It is not difficult to scatter seeds, but it takes courage to keep facing the wind” –Middle Eastern wisdom saying